If for no other reason: beer

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Beer bottle sitting on a log in a forest

Nashville’s breweries champion clean water. Beer lovers should too. The secret’s in the trees.

Like so many other things in Nashville, our local brewery scene is booming. Nashville is home to more than two dozen breweries that offer a dizzying array of local beers. Underlying all the creative recipes on tap is a single crucial ingredient: water.

Just like our homes, Nashville breweries rely on water from the Cumberland River. A single pint of beer requires more than five gallons of water to produce. But chances are, when people hoist a glass they aren’t toasting an unsung hero of our water supply: trees!

It's in the trees

Believe it or not, trees play a critical role in our water supply. Their roots hold soil in place, minimizing sediment pollution (sediment is considered a major source of steam pollution). Their canopy lowers water temperatures and reduces evaporation. Healthy forest floors act as filters and sponges for falling rain, serving as a natural water treatment and storage facility for everyone downstream. In fact, more than half the water supply of the entire United States is sourced from our forests.

Craft Beer and Trees = OktoberForest

That’s why during the month of October, The Nature Conservancy is partnering with more than 150 breweries, including Nashville’s own Jackalope Brewing Company, to highlight forest restoration needs and help consumers understand the direct link between healthy forests and their favorite beers through our OktoberForest campaign.

"You can’t have good beer without clean water."
—Bailey Spaulding, Jackalope Brewing Company

The Jackalope team firmly believes in protecting and restoring our forests, which is why they are excited to be part of OktoberForest. “We try really hard to give back to our community, and taking care of forests is ground zero for taking care of the environment,” says Bailey Spaulding, CEO and cofounder, Jackalope Brewing Company. “And if you don’t take care of the environment, guess what? Beer goes away. You can’t have good beer without clean water.”

The staff of Nashville's Jackalope Brewing staff

The staff of Nashville's Jackalope Brewing Company

In addition to our OktoberForest campaign, we are focused on several major strategies to improve forest health and improve water quality across Tennessee.


In Nashville, we are a proud partner in the recently launched Root Nashville campaign to plant 500,000 trees across Davidson County by 2050. Nashville’s population has nearly doubled in the last two decades. This growth has meant a significant loss of tree canopy—more than 9,000 trees a year—and the clean air, clean water, and cooler summer temperatures that come with healthy urban tree canopies.

Cumberland Plateau

On the Cumberland Plateau where much of the water in the Cumberland River originates, our Working Woodlands program is pioneering sustainable forest management agreements that allows landowners to generate revenue from improved timber management and the growing carbon market while protecting and improving the health of their forest. This allows large forested tracts to remain intact, providing critical wildlife habitat and cleaner air and water for us all.

East Tennessee

In the Southern Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee, The Nature Conservancy has a long history of working in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to improve management of the Cherokee National Forest. Our efforts have helped restore natural fire regimes, combat invasive species, and acquire key inholdings – all important ways to improve the health of forests that provide 57% of Knoxville’s drinking water.

This October, we hope you’ll join our efforts to improve the health of forests and enjoy the benefits they provide – clean air, clean water, and tasty beer.

About the author

Rob is the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers Program Director at the Nature Conservancy in Tennessee. When not at work, Rob enjoys adventuring in Tennessee's rivers and parks with his family.

To learn more about what the Nature Conservancy is doing for Tennessee, visit the Nature Conservancy website.